Comet Leonard 2021 visibility maps, trackers, live stream

Comet Leonard—the most important and brightest comet you’ll see all yr—is headed to Earth. Nicely, comparatively talking: The celestial object has spent the previous 35,000 years hurtling our approach, and for these serious about catching a look, it’ll come inside a mere 21 million miles of us on December 12. As soon as it curves across the solar, astronomers say you’ll have to attend Leonard’s full orbital interval to see it once more. (Which, simply so we’re clear, is 80,000 years.)

The comet, which was found by astronomer Greg Leonard solely this previous January, displays bigger quantities of daylight because it approaches our star, which is why the approaching weeks present the optimum time to look at it. Astronomers say it must be the brightest when it’s closest, on December 12.

Leonard travels at nearly 160,000 miles per hour, however, to us anyway, will nonetheless seem like an object floating in slow-mo (due to that 21-million-mile distance from Earth). To see it, you’ll must do a bit extra prep than merely stumble away from bed an hour early. Though, admittedly, that’s a terrific begin: Till the center of December, Leonard’s finest visibility is within the early morning sky, which implies getting up “very early, in all probability round 5 a.m.,” Griffith Observatory director Ed Krupp tells NPR. After mid-December, the perfect viewing time will shift to the night.

“Comets are notoriously troublesome to foretell by way of brightness and visibility,” NASA warns on its site. Even at peak brightness, Leonard “will in all probability require binoculars to identify,” although the company provides: “There’s an opportunity it may very well be brilliant sufficient to see with the unaided eye, however once more, with comets, you actually by no means know.” Due to this fact, take your possibilities together with your bare eye, or you might wish to deliver a telescope or pair of binoculars.

Subsequent, listed below are NASA’s instructions for tips on how to spot it utilizing the sky and different celestial our bodies as landmarks:


Within the first couple of weeks of December, Comet Leonard could be discovered within the east earlier than dawn, passing between Arcturus and the deal with of the Large Dipper. It approaches the horizon proper across the time of its closest method to Earth, that means it’ll doubtless be brighter however more difficult to look at. It then switches over to being a night object after round Dec. 14th, for just a bit whereas after the Solar units—because it begins its lengthy haul outward from the Solar once more, progressively fading in brightness.

If that sounds daunting, a number of trackers might be able to show you how to. As its identify suggests, presents a live position tracker. Or in the event you’re serious about a long time extra coordinates, a website run by the Atmospheres, Spatial Observations Laboratory and the Finnish Meteorological Institute posts daily maps of Leonard’s place going all the way in which again to 1996. There’s additionally a Twitter account, @cometleonard, that each few hours posts the comet’s distance from us, magnitude, and close by constellations.

Should you’re anxious you received’t discover the comet regardless, however don’t wish to miss this one-and-only likelihood to look at it shoot throughout the sky, Rome’s Digital Telescope Mission will be livestreaming the view from its observatory tomorrow, December 8.



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